Wyrd New Jersey: The Paranormal State

I don't go much for the paranormal. Not that I'm a disbeliever, necessarily - in fact, I expect we'll be seeing more and more weirdness manifesting as everything continues to spin apart. Whether this is all a function of neurology or interdimensional rifts or electromagnetic disturbances is hard to say, which is why I try not to spend too much time on the topic. My opinion is that if paranormal phenomena exists, it will have an ultra-normal explanation. Meaning there will be a science behind it, only one we don't yet understand.

And normally I wouldn't talk about it here, but Mike C! at Hidden Experience is a collector of these kinds of things and insisted that I do.

So with all of that prefacing, let me just explain what happened the other night. You decide for yourself what it all means.

It was around 10:45 PM, and I was taking my dog for a walk because I was really wound up. We were walking down the street and a figure came out of the woods and stepped into our path about 30 feet in front of us. It seemed as if it was completely white, which I interpreted at the time as white clothing. It stood beneath an overhanging branch so its head was completely in shadow. It was maybe a bit under 5 feet tall.

I would have thought it was a kid cutting through the woods, who was startled when he saw us on the street. Only it didn't react to us at all- it calmly came out of the woods and then stood under an overhanging branch, facing us.

It didn't make a sound the whole time- not a single sound, not even when it came out of the woods. No snapped twigs, no footfalls, nothing. This is a quiet summer night when every sound reverberates. It stood there facing us. Like it was waiting for us. That was weird.

Kind of like this, only a lot weirder.

The other weird thing is that my very loud, very excitable Collie didn't bark, even though I saw that she saw it too. If it were a person or a animal she would have barked her brains out, especially in a situation like that. She just stood there staring at it, like she was studying something new and interesting. She didn't seem to be frightened - fascinated, rather.

We looked at it for about a minute and then I backed her away, saying "Cmon." I got a very weird vibe once I started to process it. Granted, it was nighttime, but we were fairly close and I couldn't make the damn thing out, only a white figure that somehow didn't seem completely solid. It didn't move the whole time. I did pull out my cell phone in a vain attempt to light the scene but it was hopeless. It stayed there as we walked away and I didn't hear anything as we turned the corner. At all.

About a block away a strange and totally unfamiliar thought came into my head: "I've just seen a ghost." I've become aware of how I'm imposing a narrative familiarity on this event, that was really a lot weirder than I'm able to communicate. The word "ghost" is reductionist - it calls to minds a host of images and cultural associations that don't communicate the strangeness of this.

I went home and told my wife about it. She was fascinated and walked over to the spot looking for it. And while she looking around, our black cat came jumping out of the bushes and scared the hell out of her, exactly like some horror movie fake-out! And the next morning my dog woke me up by barking her head off- almost like a delayed reaction from the previous night.

Sign reads "Witness- Call PD"

Later that morning I drove down the same street on the way to drop off some papers. When I got to the corner I was startled by a large electronic traffic sign, which indicated that a serious hit and run accident had occurred the other day and the police were looking for tips. I haven't heard if the victim died.

This neighborhood has an interesting history. As I've written there's a lot of weird symbolism around, and there are six cemeteries in walking distance of my house (including the Necropolis). At the end of the street in question is a house built on the lot of an earlier house in which a firefighter died during an arson fire a year after we moved in.

A couple summers ago a young woman walked from the nearest cemetery (about three blocks away) into a speeding commuter train. The strange thing was that she wasn't even from the area.

It's these kinds of syncs- recent tragedies and violent deaths within a short distance of this encounter- that make me think a bit more seriously about an event I'd otherwise file away as a curiosity.

I mean, that's classic ghost stuff, right?

And plus, there's the whole thing with Aleister Crowley being buried not too far away.

If anyone has any theories, feel free to chime in.